How Much Did I Make Driving For Lyft & Uber on a Saturday Night in the OC/LA?

Even though I’m now a registered Uber and Lyft driver I haven’t had much time to drive for both platforms at the same time.  I wrote about my first weekend doing both a couple weeks ago and the rides were overwhelmingly Uber.  Even though I’m a part time driver, I really don’t have any set times that I like to drive though.  I kind of just head out whenever I feel like it or whenever I’m bored.

With that being said, I decided that I was ready to try out my first full Saturday night driving for both Lyft and Uber.  It was actually my first full Saturday night in general ever since I normally do other things on Saturday nights.  But here in Orange County, Friday nights are usually a little bit slow.  I haven’t had much luck making the big bucks on a Friday night but it seems like Saturday nights are always heading towards surge or Primetime around 11 pm up until around 2 or 3 am.

Analyzing My Saturday Night

It’s a little hard to keep track of all your rides while you’re driving but I usually take an in-depth look at my statistics using Sherpa and some of my own calculations the next day.  The best thing about driving part-time is that you can really cherry pick your hours.  I usually turn on Lyft and Uber at my house and if it’s slow, I might postpone going out until it gets busier.

And that’s exactly what happened on this night, I checked in around 7 pm and then again at 8 pm and there were still tons of drivers out.  I went into driver mode for a while but didn’t get any requests within a few minutes so I figured it would be better to wait until later.

9:24 pm – First Uber Ride: 1.36 miles, 5 minutes, $5.75, 9:33 pm – 9:38 pm

I usually like starting off the night from my house with a Lyft request since after Uber’s cut, Lyft driver pay is actually higher right now.  But after about 10 minutes of no requests, I decided I’d rather have an Uber ride than no ride at all.  Your first ride is also when you should reset your trip odometer on your car so that you’ll know how many total miles you drove for the night.  I actually forgot to do this but I’ll show you guys a good quick way of estimating your miles at the end of this article.

When you log on to your Uber partners dashboard and view a trip in the summary form, the time listed is actually when you begin the trip.  If you want to know when you got the request, you have to click on the trip ID and open the trip details.  That way you know how long it took you to get from wherever you were to your passenger.  I’d like to see this feature integrated into Sherpa so that you don’t have to calculate it manually.  This number is important because you’re not getting paid for any of the drive time to the passenger so if you can figure out ways to track this number and reduce it, then you will be able to get more rides and make more money.

9:47 pm – Uber Ride: 2.24 miles, 10 minutes, $8.17, 9:54 pm – 10:04 pm

After I dropped off the last passengers at a bar I pulled into a parking lot across the street and hung out for a few minutes.  For now, my strategy is to remain in the same place for 5-10 mins after I drop someone off.  If I don’t get any requests during that time, I’ll make a move but during busy times this rarely happens.  I got another Uber request at 9:47 pm that was only a minute away but I ended up waiting over 5 minutes for these guys to get out of the house.

With Uber, there’s an ‘Arriving Now’ button that I usually hit when I’m 30 seconds to a minute away but I think I’m going to start hitting it earlier since 9 out of 10 times the passengers are not waiting outside.  This especially applies to late night rides, when people have been drinking they tend to take longer so give them a 2-3 minute heads up if you want to minimize your waiting time.  The only downfall to this strategy is that if they come out and you’re not there, they may be more inclined to give you a lower rating.

10:07 pm – Uber Ride: 2.15 miles, 8 minutes, $7.78, 10:09 pm – 10:17 pm

10:18 pm – Uber Ride: ? miles, 13 minutes, $6.11, 10:20 pm – 10:33 pm

I got a request shortly after my last passengers right across the street.  This is another reason why I like hanging out at bars since you can quickly drop a group off and get a group that’s leaving from the same place.  I gave two girls a ride and to put it mildly they were having a great time.  They were having such a good time that they kind of distracted me and I forgot to start the trip until we had almost arrived.

I e-mailed Uber right after but I think the best thing to do when you forget to start a trip is select a fare review (when you end the trip) at the end of the trip.  Uber ended up only giving me $6 for the trip but it probably should have been closer to $10.  Either way, lesson learned, don’t forget to start the trip!

10:37 pm – Cancellation by Uber Passenger

I got a request but they quickly texted me and said, “Sorry gotta cancel”.  No big deal because I hadn’t even left yet and the pick-up would have been right around the corner.

10:49 pm – Uber Ride: Cancelled by me as a No Show, $5

I hung around the bars on the Peninsula for a bit and got a call a few minutes away on Lido Island in a residential area.  I’ve started texting the passengers a quick blurb that says something like this: “Hey this is your driver, I’m on my way. See you soon. -Harry XXX-XXX-XXXX”  Since Uber and Lyft both use a VOIP number for passengers and drivers, you can just copy and paste this text message every time you get a new passenger.  I actually copy and paste it once a ride ends so that as soon as I get my next ride I can send it to them and try to avoid any cancellations that way or butt dials.

Related Article: RSG Podcast Episode 1: Tips for New Drivers

I also include my Google Voice Number so that if they need to contact me outside of the TNC VOIP number they can.  Once you’ve disconnected from a rider, those numbers no longer work.  So this could come in handy if a passenger forgets something in your car or wants a ride later on.  If it’s slow, that’s a good way to get extra rides.

I got the request at 10:49, arrived at 10:53 and texted the passenger again.  The house was dark and since I hadn’t heard from the passenger at all, I called twice and then cancelled the request as a no show.  Since more than 5 minutes had elapsed, I got a $5 cancellation fee.  I’m still experimenting but based off Uber’s policies it seems like the 5 minutes start when the request is made (that’s also when I send my text) so if it takes you more than 5 minutes to get there, you can probably wait a few minutes and cancel if they no show and you should still get $5.  The 5 minutes does not start once you arrive at the passenger’s location to the best of my knowledge.

11:03 pm – Uber Ride: ? Miles, 10 minutes, $5.57, 11:03 pm – 11:13 pm

One of the benefits of giving out your Google Voice number is that if you really like the passenger (and they like you) you can mention to them that they can text you if they need a ride later.  Even though I give out my number to every passenger, a lot of them don’t even realize it or they assume that the VOIP number is my number.  I’m probably going to print out business cards in the future but this is a good temporary solution.

I also like to hand out my number to people I pick up that live near me.  For anyone that lives near me, I make sure to let them know I live right down the street and can give them a ride whenever they want, just text me.  That eliminates a lot of the drive to passenger time that you don’t normally get paid for.

My last ride ended right near the two girls I had picked up earlier and they texted me and asked if I could pick them up again so I obliged.  I feel kind of dumb but I actually forgot to start the ride again until we were almost there.  I e-mailed Uber about it but I don’t think they will make adjustments if you forget to start the trip like Lyft will.  This is kind of a bummer but it should make you remember to start the trip.

11:30 pm – Uber Ride: 6.52 Miles, 17 minutes, $15.30, 11:40 pm – 11:57 pm

11:58 pm – Uber Ride: 5.33 Miles, 11 minutes, $12.33, 12:04 am – 12:15 am

12:34 am – Uber Ride: 3.81 Miles, 10 minutes, $10.24, 12:37 am – 12:47 am

12:50 am – First Lyft Ride: 4.5 miles, 9 minutes, $9, 12:55 am – 1:04 am

It took 3.5 hours but I finally got my first Lyft ride of the night.  When I’m driving for both, I make sure to have both apps on and running and as soon as I get a call for one platform I accept and then turn off the other app.  Once I end a ride, I go back online for both apps.  You can see from my last two rides, after Uber’s commission you’re actually making more with Lyft and that amount is magnified the longer the trip is.

1:06 am – Uber Ride: 6.22 miles, 12 minutes, $13.82, 1:10 am – 1:22 am

1:29 am – Lyft Ride: 11.5 miles, 18 minutes, $19, 1:40 am – 1:58 am

2:12 am – Last Uber Ride of the Night: 11.46 miles, 14 minutes, 1.5x Surge Pricing, $30.88, 2:17 am – 2:31 am

There hadn’t been much surge/PT all night in the area I was driving in but around 1:30-2 am when everyone wanted to go home, pretty much everything was surging.  Unfortunately I had just missed out on PT on the last ride but I got one nice 1.5X ride on my way home.  Generally at the end of the night, I’ll start heading home from wherever I am and just keep doing rides until I make it home without any requests.  I was headed home at this point and I got one last surge request just a few minutes from my house so it worked out well.

2:54 am – Arrived home

Breaking Down the Numbers

Uber and Lyft Fare Analysis 6-28

I think Lyft and Uber can be a great source of second income but it’s also important to carefully analyze how much you’re really making.  The biggest mistake I see from drivers is over-estimating their pay.  Lyft and Uber only provide you with the miles you drive while you have an actual passenger in the car and they show the fare payout before taking out their cut (Lyft’s cut is at 0% right now).  If we were to calculate my hourly rate based on that, I would be able to tell people that I made $64/hour ($148.95/2.33 hours)!

You have to remember it’s in Lyft and Uber’s best interests for you to think you’re making as much as possible.  They know that when you see you made $100 and only drove for 2 hours, you can quickly say oh cool, I made $50/hr while I was driving when in reality the numbers are probably much lower.  Luckily for you guys, I see this type of ‘fudging the numbers’ all the time in the financial industry so I’m used to it.

My Real Pay

When you take into account the Uber commission, the time driving to a passenger and down time, my average pay drops way down to $22.68 per hour.  Now that’s still a pretty good rate but note that I didn’t include gas in these calculations since everyone’s MPG is going to be different.  I would estimate that I get around 20 MPG on city streets so how do we figure out how many miles I drove?

The easiest way is to start your trip odometer when you leave your house but I almost always forget to do this.  I’m really bad at starting trips and trip odometers if you couldn’t tell by now.  If you forget to reset your trip odometer, a good way to estimate your total miles driven is to double your total miles (the number from Uber and/or Lyft).  This larger number is probably conservative since you’ll rarely drive more miles to pick up a passenger than the ride will be but it should provide for an accurate hourly pay calculation.

So let’s say I drove 114 miles and I get 20 Miles Per Gallon.  That means I used 5.7 gallons of gas which sounds about right for one night of driving.  Right now, I’m paying about $3.90 per gallon for midgrade gas so that means I need to subtract $22.24 from my total fare of $124.76.  So after accounting for gas, my hourly rate drops even further to $18.64/hour ($102.52/5.5 hours).

Is it Worth it For $18.64/hr?

Since I work full time, I don’t drive for Lyft and Uber because I need the money.  I do it because I enjoy it, it’s fun, the hours are flexible and yea the extra money is nice.  I think $18-$19/hr is about the minimum that I would be willing to drive for though.  I do make more per hour at my day job but driving is a lot easier than my day job so that’s something that I definitely consider.

Even though I ended up driving for five and a half hours last night I had a lot of fun.  All of the passengers I met were cool and fun people, nobody puked in my car and instead of spending money, I actually made money.  I’m not as young as I used to be so now when I go out my hangovers tend to last a full day, thus ruining any productivity I might have had on a Sunday.

Realistically, as an Uber/Lyft driver in a major city you should be able to make $20-$35/hr depending on the time you drive.  During absolute peak times, you can probably clear $30-$45/hr but that usually doesn’t last longer than 1-2 hours.  I’d say a safe estimate for normal busy times in the LA area would be $20-$30/hr and for Orange County it’s a little less at $15-$25/hr after taking into account things like gas and down time.  Not bad for sitting in a cool air-conditioned car and driving people around.

Luck of the Draw

On this particular Saturday night for whatever reason there were a lot of drivers out.  The bars were all packed and there were plenty of people out but it just seemed like there weren’t as many requests as there should have been.  I think that’s evidenced by the fact that I had an average wait time in-between passengers of over 7 minutes.  When I drive in LA on a busy night, I never go more than 2-3 minutes without a passenger.

Even though I would have liked to have made closer to $30/hr I’m not really discouraged by my night since I know a lot of times it’s really the luck of the draw when it comes to getting those long high paying rides.  I took one couple for a $19 ride and after I picked them up, I saw that that area was now surging.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my first Saturday night driving for both Lyft and Uber.  I didn’t make as much as I wanted to but I did learn a lot about my driving habits and gained some very valuable analytics data.  Going forward, I’ll be able to compare my future runs and see if the strategies I’m employing are actually working.

The spreadsheet I created for this analysis is completely free for all of my readers and I really encourage you to check it out and leave me a comment on this post if you have any questions about how to use it.  It’s a little complex I know, but it kind of has to be in order to gain the type of insight that will make you a more efficient driver.

Fare Analysis Spreadsheet

New Lyft Drivers Can Get Up To A $750 Sign-Up Bonus

LyftLyft is currently offering new drivers up to $750 depending on your market.  Sign up here and earn your bonus before it’s too late!

Readers, if you made it all the way to the end of this 2,500 word post I congratulate you!  What do you think about my first night driving for Lyft and Uber?  Is there anything I could have done better, differently or just the same?  What do you think about the spreadsheet I created for analyzing your real earnings?  Is it worth the hassle to figure it out or are you happy doing what you do?

New Uber Drivers Can Get Up To $500 When They Sign-Up

Lyft

Uber is currently offering sign-up bonuses of up to $500 depending on the market.  Sign up here and start earning today!

-The Rideshare Guy

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone
The following two tabs change content below.
I'm Harry, the owner and founder of The Rideshare Guy Blog and Podcast. I used to be a full-time engineer but now I'm a rideshare blogger! I write about my experience driving for Uber, Lyft, and other services and my goal is to help drivers earn more money by working smarter, not harder.
  • Scott Van Maldegiam

    Harry, love your blog. Thanks for all the info you provide. If you are ever looking for a guest blogger, let me know. I also have guest blogged on busblog, another Uber driver in the LA area. He is a friend I know from High School. With that out of the way…

    I drive for Sidecare and Uber. I keep both apps open but in the many weeks of having Sidecar, I have only done 2 rides because Uber always has the first request. This weekend, Sidecar offered to pay me an extra $20 if I did just 3 rides. I only did 1 because Uber kept me busy and the Surges were on for a good portion of the weekend. I worked a lot of hours on Saturday and Sunday, but had total fares of over $700 for just those 2 days.

    One of the things I do to try and be more efficient is keep the Uber rider app open when I am waiting for my next ride, to see if I am surrounded by other drivers. If I am, I look for an open area. This is fishing. Know your hot spots that are hot at different times. If one of your hot spots doesn’t have a lot of drivers in that spot, then go to that spot. Since I drive in Chicago, we are only talking about moving a mile or less to get to the next hot spot. Usually, I get a request before getting to the next hot spot. Sometimes all it takes is moving a 1/4 mile to make yourself available to many more ride requests.

    Another thing… I try to avoid extremely congested areas. Going to pick someone up at the end of a sporting event or a concert is a good idea? I don’t think so. It takes a long time to get to your rider and, unless it is a huge surge, it usually comes out even with picking up others. With that said, if you are going to pick up people from a concert or sporting event, know a good place to direct your rider in order to make it easy for both of you.

    Lastly, one of my rules is if the rider can’t manage to place his pin point relatively close to where they are, ask them to request another car. I have tried to be the nice guy too many times and gotten bitten every time. I don’t allow more than 4 passengers in my car (number of seat belts) and for whatever reason, most of the people who can’t place their pin point correctly also want to fit more than 4 people in the car. I broke my rule this past weekend only to find out they wanted to fit 6 passengers into the car. It was a waste of time. Also, I suspect that most of the people who can’t place their pin point run a higher risk of throwing up in your car.

    • Thanks Scott, yea sure contact me at harry at therideshareguy.com or via my contact form.

      I didn’t even mention it but I had SC on the whole night and not one request in OC (it’s not officially launched yet but you can request a ride). Thanks for sharing all of your valuable tips. I think keeping the Uber app open is a great strategy, I’ve been doing that a little bit but should probably stay more vigilant.

      In my first podcast, I mentioned finding sporting events and concerts but I think you’re right. Even if it is surging, the time spent actually getting the pax probably isn’t worth it. Down time and driving to pax time is what killed me last weekend. Maybe come in 30-60 mins after things are over and pick up the stragglers 🙂

      I had 2-3 problems with pins being placed in the wrong place and I asked the pax to cancel every time. When you’re driving late, pax are drunk and it’s easy to misplace the pin. I send a confirmation text right when I get the request but it’s hard to also confirm address via text. I’m still not sure if I want to text and/or call the pax every time I get the request.

      I hope that Uber/Lyft fix this or at least make them confirm that’s where they want to drop the pin. I think some pax will also move the pin around until they’re out of a surge area and then make the request 🙂 Sneaky guys, sounds like something i would do haha!

  • Bob Brazelton

    Is there a template for this spreadsheet? or an app or program to use? You talked about Sherpa? I googled that and got nothing? I am so interested in growing my income and these things you pointed out seem very usefull. I am very new to Uber, and I am going to sign up for Lyft (I didnt know you could do both). Thank you so much for the info, I will follow your blog now.

  • IQBAL MARFANI

    Thx for all the info. But, U forgot one item in
    UR analysis, the depreciation of the car based
    on mileage driven (for wear N tear and save
    Funds for Repair, Maintenance, Replacement
    Of the vehicle, etc. Portion of insurance as expense, etc.
    Iqbal Marfani
    Iqbalmarfani@aol.com

    • Yea I didn’t include depreciation of the car because it’s going to vary widely depending on the car, the driver and the amount of usage the car gets. You could probably use an online calculator to figure it out but since I only drive part time, the depreciation from TNC driving is much less relative to the depreciation from personal driving.

      • IQBAL MARFANI

        You can apportioned the depreciation based upon the usage (mileage) just to get
        Net Profit OR $ Amount Per Hour. May be
        .10 cents per mile as depreciation expenses?

        • Yea that sounds about right, if I did that though I would also have to take into account the tax savings. You get a deduction of 56 cents/mile for depreciation of your vehicle even though true depreciation is closer to 10-20 cents/mile 🙂

          Everyone’s analysis will be different depending on the assumptions you make.

          • John Legend

            any chance you could update this and add sidecar to it? … this is not my forte.. but at first look in boston sidecar seems to be too cheap to make sense to drive for… i wanted to actually run the comparison to see.

          • We’ll have some more posts/podcasts about SC so def stay tuned!

  • Fernando Spornhauer Colón

    I recommend using the Expensify app to assist with the tripometer issue. Expensify has a feature that allows you to track and photograph your start and end mileage. The app will then calculate your total mileage cost for you. This is addition to the excellent feature of tracking your expenses and receipts. In conjunction with the web platform for Expensify, you can create reports of the mileage and expenses to provide to your accountant.

    • Thanks for the tip Fernando, I’ve heard about Expensify, going to try it out among a few other apps and will report back on all of them. There are definitely some good mobile applications out there that should make things easier tracking-wise. Just gotta find them!

  • Pingback: How Much Can You Make Driving For Lyft and Uber in OC/LA? | The Four Hour Work Day()

  • Pingback: Carnival of Financial Camaraderie - student-finance.com.au()

  • Pingback: Lifestyle Carnival – 111th Edition - My Life, I Guess...()

  • Pingback: Carnival of Financial Camaraderie « Counting My Pennies()

  • Pingback: Carnival of Money Pros - Single Moms Income()

  • Pingback: How Much Can You Make Driving For Lyft and Uber in OC/LA? - Analytics, Lyft, MPG, Rideshare Guy, Uber()

  • Pingback: Friday Rideshare Roundup: European Honeymoon, Top RSG Posts and Latest Rideshare News()

  • Pingback: Carnival of Retirement: Slow Drip Edition | Home Money Easy()

  • Pingback: Carnival of MoneyPros: Finance For Men Edition | His Finance()

  • Pingback: Carnival of Financial Planning -()

  • Pingback: The Rideshare Guy Podcast Episode 4: My Best Week of Rideshare Driving Ever!()

  • Pingback: Carnival of Money Pro's - Wedding Edition - Penny Thots()

  • Pingback: Do Drivers Make More Money With Lyft or Uber?()

  • Pingback: Have You Ever Done Rides During a Special Event?()

  • Pingback: Side Hustle: I’m A Lyft and Uber Driver | Budgets Are Sexy()

  • Pingback: What It's Like Driving For Uber()

  • Brian White

    I currently drive for a private limo company. Would it be better to drive for Lyft or Uber? I used to drive for Sidecar and I really enjoyed it but they are not in Denver. Thoughts?

    • Are you looking to replace your job and do this full time or just part time? It’s pretty location specific but I think a good strategy would be to pick one or the other, do it for a little while and then sign up for the other and compare it yourself. I’d pick Uber right now though if it were me.

      • Brian White

        I also have a FT job and I would consider replacing it but it offers benefits and the limo job does not. I was approved for Uber X but then told my vehicle is to old (2003). I am concerned about the insurance and not sure about driving using my own vehicle for this reason. The upside of the Limo thing is that I am fully insured and it is not my car. Also after reading forums I am not convinced that Uber or any other platform is allowed to pick up or drop off at Denver Airport. We need a airport badge and have to enter in the commercial vehicle area. The no tip thing for Uber is not cool. My company does not currently use Uber. I enjoy driving though.

        • Yea you’ll need a lot of licenses, permits, extra insurance, etc if you want to do black car/suv type service. Sounds like you have a pretty good setup going on right now with your FT and limo job on the side. Maybe add Lyft on the side and try it out? See how things go..

  • Bill Dailey

    Great article Harry, I missed this one. I wonder if we can hit up one of the navigation apps to start tracking mileage, since they launch when we hit the navigate button. That would be really nice and convenient and would help us old guys who forget 🙂

    • Yup you can use triplog or mylog on android to do just that. It syncs with your bluetooth device so it will auto-start whenever you turn on your car. I also use metromile as a back-up and it gives you a little more detail of your trips and doesn’t suck juice from your phone.

  • chris

    You made some great points my fellow Uber and Lyft brother. I too do it because it’s fun and easy. Ride on brother!

  • Neil

    If you are not at the pickup location or your driver cannot get in touch with you, the cancellation fee will apply if the driver is at your pickup location and has waited for over 5 minutes. This means that the fee can still apply even when your driver is the one to cancel the trip.

    • Yup, just be careful that you don’t get the same pax again since they probably won’t be too happy with you. I usually turn off the app for a few mins and drive away to avoid getting the same pax..

  • Just did my first trip(s) last night! Harry I am having difficulty finding the Ride Request time. Seeing as this article is not new, did they remove that listing in an update? I’d love to rock your spreadsheet, thanks!

    • Awesome, how was it?!

      The time of the request is given on your Uber dashboard (I also send a text as soon as I accept the ride – hey, this is harry, i’m otw, etc which works well for Lyft tracking). Then I also send a text once I’m there (not always but if I wanna do detailed analysis later).

  • Betsy

    Hey Ride Share Guy, since you’re already a LYFT or SIDECAR driver, can send me a link to get a bonus for starting (like UBER gives you $100.00 when you begin to drive) I recently startes with UBER but want to try the other two companies. I would really appreciate it. Thanks

  • CelestialTerrestrial

    I’m considering buying a car for Uber and just driving during the peak hours a few days a week just to cover the costs of owning a car, insurance, gas. How many hours a month would one need to pay for the costs of just owning a car so the car is effectively free? 10 hours a week during peak hours/days? If this guy gets approximately $22/hr, and the car/maint costs about $750 a month, then maybe it takes about 34 to40 hours a month to pay for the car/maint of ownership. That’s about 10 hours a week. That could be split up into just about 3 hours for three days a week during peak times.

    As a Uber user, I saw the peak hours start at about 5pm or 6pm and went to at least 10pm on a Friday and Saturday night.

    • Yea I’d say $15-$25/hr during peak times is reasonable (after gas but before expenses). If you’re in a big city like LA/SF, that income can go way up during peak/surge hours.

      I’d say 10 hours a week is reasonable, so maybe 2 shifts of 5 hours. Sounds like a pretty good deal to pay for a car 🙂

  • JoeCL323

    Harry:

    Nice article. Two comments. First, the IRS uses $0.57 per mile for the cost of operating a car. I think this is a better number to use that just gas b/c it includes everything it takes to operate a car. (And I don’t think the IRS is being generous – not in their nature.)

    How do your “regular” customers order you via the Lyft or Uber app? Wait until you are sitting there and then request a ride?

    Thx –

    • Hey Joe, 57 cents is generous depending on your car 🙂 But yes it is a good conservative number to use.

      And yes, that’s exactly what I do. As long as it’s not super busy or you’re at an airport, it should work. Sometimes it takes a couple tries though.

  • Diana Barahona

    Hi, Harry. I bought your Gold course and it is well worth the money. So far, my hourly average is very low, but I think that once I am familiar with my city’s surge spots and times, I can do better. I wanted to make a few observations on this article.
    1. I am more concerned with earnings per mile than earnings per hour: this is because along with gas, maintenance is expensive. I would rather sit in a parked car than drive an empty car. Even though it is the long rides that generate higher fares, if an 18-mile ride to a destination where there isn’t any demand generates a net of $17.26, and then you have to drive another 18 miles back, you are earning .48 per mile–less than the IRS deduction.

    2. To track my mileage, I just write down the odometer reading when I start and finish. That way I know how many miles I put on my car and compare it to my net earnings.
    3. If I have to travel a long distance to get back from a long ride out of my area I have learned to go offline. Those ride requests that take you miles out of your way for Uber’s famous $2.40 minimum or for a rider cancellation aren’t worth staying online just to avoid paying Metromile 5.1 cents per mile.
    4. I think the consensus among drivers is that if you don’t have a surge or PT fare, you’re better off not driving. Uber riders are told there’s a surge and given the option to wait until the surge ends and then order their ride, so I think that there’s some strategizing on both sides with drivers canceling pre-surge pickups and riders waiting out the surge. Positioning yourself to be at the right place at the right time seems to be the key to getting that surge price.

    • Hey Diana,

      Great observations and thanks for your purchase! I think with lower rates you are right, the dead head miles matter more than ever. You used to be able to do those long rides and drive back and you’d still make more than short rides but now that’s not really the case. I’ll have an article on this in the future and some more info about surge, but yes you are right.

  • Holly

    Hello Im so glad you are taking the time to share your driving experiences with everyone! much appreciated 🙂 Have you ever driven or know anyone who has driven in the early morning in LA and how lucrative it is? I am a young female and have been told I shouldn’t drive the bar scenes at night.

    • I’ve heard from drivers that early mornings are pretty good in LA since you get a lot of long runs to the airport with no traffic. There isn’t a ton of demand but there also aren’t very many drivers on the road. I think it may be a good fit for someone like you who doesn’t want to do the bar scene 🙂 Just make sure you have a car that gets great gas mileage bc your pick-ups and deadheads (way back with no pax) will be farther than normal.

  • Les

    I would also remember this is non-taxed because it’s considered your own business. So to plan ahead you should do a little more calculations so you’re not screwed at the start of next year when taxes are due…

    • Good point Les. And I would say that taxes are not withheld instead of non-taxed 🙂 You definitely have to pay taxes eventually, but need to budget/save on your own for them.

  • Joe

    Harry, This is great. I have been driving for 18 months with Uber and 12 months with Lyft.This story should be retold with the rates increasing with Uber since May 2015. Now the advantage of Lyft is just the 3 cents per minute more that we make on a ride. This is really an advantage when we are able to hit the start of the ride with Lyft when we first arrive vs Uber policy of waiting for five minutes until beginning the ride. This can be a dollar more on every ride. I drive full time and I would say that Uber is about 75% of my business. Lyft also sometimes gives me a 27 minute requested ride which I always have the custome cancel as it is so far away. This is when it is busier. On a weekday it might make sense to make some money if the PAX is going to make you more than $15.

    • Yea that’s true although I think there are lots of things you can do to ‘try’ and make them come out a little quicker on Uber: send text after you accept, 1 min out, when you’re there, etc..

      I do like that feature on Lyft though and I hope that Uber implements it too.

      • Joe

        This feature used to me available with Uber also. You can still do it indirectly. I set up my Uber telephone number as “Uber PAX”. This way I can send a text to that number and the PAX get’s it. PAX’s also send me texts via that telephone number. With Uber I always hit arrive when about a hundred yards from the location and upon my actual arrival, I call them immediately.

        • Ooh great tip, I was doing that for a while – need to start doing it again 🙂

  • theartistformallyknownasjd

    What a fucking goon. Your calculations suck. Taxes? Depreciation? How much is uber paying you? You are a rookie with half-assed advice.

  • Paula Emley

    Harry, what city are you starting in? (Your home). I live in northeast Anaheim and I have never been able to start a ride from my home. I’ve been driving Uber and Lyft for about a month and a half. The bulk of my calls is usually overwhelmingly Uber…except for Fourth of July when everyone took Lyft. I think the difference in surge pricing sent people to Lyft that weekend.

    • Hey Paula, I live in Newport Beach so I’m pretty fortunate in that respect. But I bet there are some people heading to beach areas around dinner time? I always see east Irvine surging early in the night and I would suspect it’s people going to the popular eating/bar places.

      There’s also the Anaheim packing district, Angeles/ducks games and disneyland by you which I would assume are often busy?

    • brianguy

      I live in Irvine (north/east) and I can almost never get rides after 10pm unless it’s Saturday. even sometimes on Saturdays. I’ve literally driven between my house and the Spectrum and back a few times because I could and just to see what would happen, and picked up 0 passengers. According to Lyft’s heat map, the only area that ever seems to need pickups in Irvine after 9-10pm on a normal day is around UCI.

  • Bee

    how do you go about getting that $750 sing on bonus

  • brianguy

    I don’t really understand how to text Lyft passengers…. it says you can call passenger, or you an click the button to notify them that you’re there. seems to be no real option for texting a passenger thru Lyft. maybe it went away or I’m doing it wrong? I hate having to call while driving when like you said, texting is better (what more people would expect to receive is a text anyway) and you can just copy/paste so you’re not fumbling around or trying to have a conversation while you’re on the way.

    • Call the lyft pax and then save the number as ‘Lyft Pax’ and then you can text that same number any time you’re en route or on a ride 🙂

  • Nilza

    Today is my second day driving for Uber. I made $8.36 a hour net after all the expenses

  • Harry, thanks for all the info and breakdown! The market is constantly changing, hard to determine exactly how much one can make driving for Lyft or Uber. I have posted all my earning on my blog if anyone is interested, perhaps that could be of help also to determine if driving is a good option.

    http://www.uplyftme.com/earnings/

  • N1125Y

    Not sure were you guys at but those figures are not even close to what I have been experiencing …. in my humble opinion making a $20/hour is a dream, and not possible, 20% will put so many out to the street and the force of supply & demanded will drive the earning down ( remember, there is no learning curve and no initial investment or training involve here, you just open you smartphone and you are in the business), time for me is almost not a factor when calculating an earning, time doesn’t consume fuel nor it is susceptible to wear & tear.
    Now. with the $1.95 the Uber applied to every ride, on all my short $4.95 distance like: student to collage or school, moms to the nearest shipping center, Doc visit or the nearest Airport or just schlepping drunk kids between bars on weekend night ,Uber cuts between 30% 50% of the total fare. outrages ..
    I calculate my earing by miles and so fare I logged 3,594Miles paid $705 for fuel & made $2,207 (true my care is not very efficient but even with a better and more efficient vehicle I’ll be able to cut about 20% on fuel consumption, not a dramatic difference) simple arithmetic it comes to $0.47/ Mile, did I say amortization wear & tear, maintenance coast, SS Taxes Etc, not yet ha ..lol ….. from having more than few conversations with uber & lyft so many of them do not even thinking about those factors & they holding the “Que Sera sera” approached, in “G_d we trust” they telling me. Many got into brand new vehicles with no “Business plane” and now they are trapped in car payments, and so many confected to me: Listen dud we know it is $5-$6/ hour but we have no choice and it’s still better than $0 …did I mention the hours that some of the driver puts daily just to be able to pay bills, & bring bread & butter to the table, brrrrrr scary, and made me, as a uber customer to think twice before launching the apps and book a ride …..did somebody runs any statistic about the uber driver life expectancy in this business, I doubt ……

    • These are all real #’s but they were before a couple fare cuts so you’re right, earnings are a bit less.

  • How does it work when a passenger who liked you texts you directly requesting a ride? How do you then log them with the app and get paid?

    • You just figure out where they are and drive to them and then have them request via Uber when they are sitting right next to you 🙂

      Probably only makes sense for longer rides though or in/out of the city for example.

  • Dave Moss

    When you give them your number and the contact you back, how do you set up the ride thru uber??

  • Jill

    What about cost of car maintenance? Wear on tires? Oil? Depreciation? etc.

    • The IRS says it costs 57 cents/mile but most efficient cars are in the 20-30 cents/mile range. More info here: therideshareguy.com/what-are-your-rideshare-expenses/

  • justsome

    this isn’t even close to an accurate picture of a night working rideshare. change half of these fares to $3.50, add a lot more dead time, and a lot more gas driving back from dead zones where you dropped off passengers. simply look at the pay rate of Lyft and Uber, then do some basic math. and you’ll see that you can’t make any money working for them. after their commission, gas, taxes, and car depreciation, you’ll be very lucky to clear $5 an hour. all of this stuff is propaganda. it’s all lies. the only people making money with rideshare are the owners, bloggers, recruiters, and administrators.

    • This article is two years old but I can assure you the numbers are all 100% real. There is a lot of variability though with this gig and it’s completely possible that some earn $5/hr and others earn $20/hr in the same night.. But over time, I think the top drivers in most cities are making $15-$20/hr.

  • macexperts

    Not all Uber/Lyft cities are created equal. If you live in NY you’ll be able to make some good money, but if you live anywhere else, you’ll probably be breaking even or you’ll be lucky if you make $0.20 for every mile you drive a client. I live in Raleigh, North Carolina, and have been driving now for a little over a week. I make an effort to bring in at least $100/day M-Th and then $250/day Fri-Sat. This is possible if I work an 8hr shift. But how much money am I really making? Very little! Unless I work in the prime (red) zones. But this doesn’t grantee that I will make double or triple. In my city, Lyft will send you 20 minutes away from the red zone, even when you are in the middle of it. I haven’t done Uber yet, and I hope that working in peak areas for Uber is better, but to be honest, my experience so far leads me to believe that both companies are taking advantage of their drivers by dropping rates so low, that you end up driving your car to pay for using it.

    Car Depreciation = 0.017/mile
    Gas $2/gal = 0.083/mile
    Oil = 0.012/mile
    Tires = 0.017/mile
    Auto Insurance =
    Total: 0.282/mile

    You’ll have to double the miles you drive because the average customer makes you drive one mile for every mile you drive them. That leads you to a total cost of $0.564/mile. This doesn’t include the cost of Auto Insurance, Manufacture Maintenance, Extra miles you travel, and the Risk of getting into an accident or getting a ticket.

    Note that the average tax cab driver charges $1.75-$2.50/mile. Uber and Lyft charge $0.75. This doesn’t mean you can’t make money. If you work on Halloween, Newyears, 4th of July, special events, or during peak hours you may make double or triple, still much less than what a cab driver makes.

  • macexperts

    Every city has it’s own set of laws pertaining to Uber/Lyft. If you live in NY you’ll be able to make some good money, but if you live anywhere else, you’ll probably be making . I live in Raleigh, North Carolina and have been driving now for a little over a week. I make an effort to make at the least $100/day M-Th and then $250/day Fri-Sat. If I work 8hrs, Reaching these goals is pretty easy. But how much money am I really making? Answer: When you are off-peak and getting paid regular Lyft Rages of $0.75/mile, you are basically getting paid for the use of your car. There is $0 profit, possibly NEGATIVE! I’ll break it down and you let me know if I am wrong.

    Not all Uber/Lyft cities are created equal. If you live in NY you’ll be able to make some good money, but if you live anywhere else, you’ll probably be breaking even or you’ll be lucky if you make $0.20 for every mile you drive a client. I live in Raleigh, North Carolina, and have been driving now for a little over a week. I make an effort to bring in at least $100/day M-Th and then $250/day Fri-Sat. This is possible if I work an 8hr shift. But how much money am I really making? Very little! Unless I work in the prime (red) zones. But this doesn’t grantee that I will make double or triple. In my city, Lyft will send you 20 minutes away from the red zone, even when you are in the middle of it. I haven’t done Uber yet, and I hope that working in peak areas for Uber is better, but to be honest, my experience so far leads me to believe that both companies are taking advantage of their drivers by dropping rates so low, that you end up driving your car to pay for using it.

    Car Depreciation = 0.017/mile
    Gas $2/gal = 0.083/mile
    Oil = 0.012/mile
    Tires = 0.017/mile
    Auto Insurance =
    Total: 0.282/mile

    You’ll have to double the miles you drive because the average customer makes you drive one mile to pick them up for every mile you drive them to their destination. That leads you to a total cost of $0.564/mile. This doesn’t include the cost of Auto Insurance, Manufacture Maintenance, Extra miles you travel, Risk of getting into an accident, getting a ticket and the 20% they remove for your total income.

    Note that the average tax cab driver charges $1.75-$2.50/mile. Uber and Lyft charge $0.75. This doesn’t mean you can’t make money. If you work on Halloween, Newyears, 4th of July, special events, or during peak hours making double or triple you can make some decent money.

    • You are right, in some places it doesn’t make a lot of sense to drive unless there is lots of surge, incentives, guarantees, etc..